Washington state

Boeing gets creative to store 737 Max jets as grounded planes pile up, video shows

Boeing is storing its grounded, undelivered 737 Max jets in an employee parking lot in Renton, WA, and elsewhere after faulty software in the planes was linked to two deadly crashes, launching a global investigation.
Boeing is storing its grounded, undelivered 737 Max jets in an employee parking lot in Renton, WA, and elsewhere after faulty software in the planes was linked to two deadly crashes, launching a global investigation. Screen grab from KING 5 YouTube video

No, Boeing workers aren’t driving grounded 737 Max jets to work.

Video published this month by KING 5 shows the planes sitting idly in an employee parking lot at Boeing’s factory in Renton, Washington. Other unused planes, many of them already painted with airline logos from around the world, are parked at Boeing Field in Seattle, KING 5 footage shows.

The jets aren’t being delivered after U.S. and global airline regulators grounded the planes in March following two deadly crashes this year and last year. Those incidents were linked to faulty sensors and software.

Because parking space is getting scarce in the Puget Sound region, the aerospace company is also sending its piling-up aircraft to a “spacious” airport in Moses Lake — an airfield that used to be Larson Air Force Base, which shut down in 1966 and once was home to B-52 bombers, NW News Network reported earlier this month.

“We are using resources across the Boeing enterprise during the pause in 737 Max deliveries, including our facilities in Puget Sound, Boeing San Antonio, and at Moses Lake,” Boeing spokesperson Paul Bergman said, according to Business Insider. “This is part of our inventory-management plan.”

Boeing is still working to fix the safety system that has been blamed for the deadly crashes and needs the Federal Aviation Administration to give the jet the green light before it can hit the skies again, according to KING 5. About 500 planes are out of the skies due to the grounding, and it’s not clear when they’ll be allowed to fly again, Newsweek reports.

“We’re going to bring a Max back up in the air that will be one of the safest airplanes ever to fly,” Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said in June at the Paris Air Show, according to Newsweek. “But we also know it will take time rebuilding the confidence of our customers and the flying public, and this will be a long-term effort.”

Parking and maintaining each jet while it’s out of the skies can cost $2,000 a month, Bloomberg reported in May.

Boeing has stored six 737 Max jets at its ramp in Moses Lake as of June 19, NW News Network reported, with Port of Moses Lake operations director Richard Mueller saying that the company could lease more space and explaining that “the desert is a good place to store airplanes.”

The planes at Moses Lake are painted for United and Southwest, according to the news outlet.

Even though the planes are grounded from commercial air travel, Boeing can still do test flights, and airlines that already have the jets can transport them “with a skeleton crew onboard,” NW News Network reported.

In the meantime, Boeing has managed to start selling the 737 Max again: Boeing announced at the Paris Air Show that the parent company of British Airways intends to buy 200 of the jets, which will be the first sale of Maxes since an Ethiopian Airlines plane crashed in March, killing all aboard the flight, according to the Associated Press.

Watch more footage of the stored planes from KING 5:

Related stories from Tacoma News Tribune

  Comments